The Contender will face American Idol.

The Contender will face American Idol.
Mark Burnett’s The Contender is the most expensive reality show ever produced, and when it debuts, NBC is going to assure its success by airing it opposite American Idol 4. The New York Times sums up this stupidity succinctly: “How it fares could ultimately affect the commitment by networks to future reality programs. And yet the show is seemingly being used as cannon fodder.” The new series will debut Feb. 21 with a 90-minute premiere, then move to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on March 1. NBC President Jeff Zucker says, “We know we’re asking this show to go into a very difficult time period against ‘American Idol.’ Our expectations are incredibly limited.” Mark Burnett is as cocky as ever, insisting, “I don’t have shows that collapse in the ratings.” Of FOX’s failed The Next Great Champ, he says, “The Fox show was junk.” Burnett also has big plans for this series, and how it will help him: “Each year, we create a different set of boxers. On my other shows, I’m limited if someone emerges like Omarosa. She’s not an actress. I don’t have access to her future value.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.